Sold for £4,200

Lot details

The Swiney Bequest silver cup, designed by Daniel Maclise RA, modelled as a pedestal cup and cover in silver and silver gilt, the cover surmounted by a figure of Justice with Vengeance and Mercy to either side, in the centre is a niello representing a Hall of Justice, the foot with four kneeling slave figures, the body of the cup with fine niello decorated scene, the reverse inscribed '20th January 1859, pursuant to the bequest in the will of the later GEORGE SWINEY ESQ M.D. in favor of the Author of the best published TREATISE ON JURISPRUDENCE. This goblet of the value of £100 containing Gold Coin to the same amount, presented BY THE SOCIETY FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF ARTS, MANUFACTURES AND COMMERCE. To Alfred Swaine Taylor Esquire M.D.F.R.S. author of a work entitled 'MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE'. Maker R&S Garrard & Co, 74.1oz, London 1857, h.42.5cm, in original fitted wooden box with later plaque annotated Fred Methold Esq.

The Swiney Prize was established through a bequest of £5000 to the Society of Arts in the will of physician George Swiney (1793-1844), who had garnered a reputation as an eccentric in his later life. Having graduated from Edinburgh University in 1816 with a thesis entitled De Insania (On Madness), Swiney eventually retired to a life of seclusion in London after retiring from his practice. He appears to have spent a lot of this retirement revising and re-writing his will and devising elaborate funeral arrangements, while forgoing food, shaving and cleaning. It was commonly believed and reported in the newspapers that Swiney had affectively starved himself to death, although an autopsy revealed heart disease. There was so much interest surrounding the unusual nature of the will and the size of the bequests that The Gentleman's Magazine published the will and its codicils in full (Volume 177). A copy of the will detailing the bequest had previously been delivered to Arthur Aikin, as secretary of the Society of Arts, but considered a hoax (Aikin was earlier one of Taylor's chemistry lecturers at Guy's Hospital and went on to be joint lecturer alongside Taylor). The prize is awarded every five years starting from 1849 for the best published essay on jurisprudence, making Alfred Swaine Taylor only the third recipient of the award. The artist Daniel Maclise (1806-1870) was commissioned to design the cup after a competition for a suitable design failed to produce any acceptable results.

Condition report
Small pinhole to base, probably in the making.
All appears complete.
No apparent dents or repairs.
Gilt very good, minimal tarnishing.
An excellent, little-handled example.
Box tired but all original.

Condition reports must be considered as a matter of opinion and not fact.


How to bid

† symbol means that this lot is subject to VAT.

Buyers Premium 22.5% plus VAT normally applies.

You can register and bid live while the auction is taking place through our LSKlive portal which becomes available half an hour before the auction is due to start.  WE DO NOT CHARGE FOR THIS SERVICE. This  platform uses technology and is completely secure.  Once you have registered your details through our website, you won't need to re-register for future sales - just sign in and start bidding!  Please note that if you register for our auction on first, then you will be liable for their 4.95% plus VAT fee.

You can bid through our website or email commission bids to (include your full contact details, lot number and bid amount). Telephone bids can be booked for lots with an estimate of £300+, please call our offices to arrange this.

Of course, you are also very welcome to come along on the day!  We are located in the heart of beautiful Bury St Edmunds and have our own car park.  


Drag and drop .jpg images here to upload, or click here to select images.